The Other McCain

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The Role of Controlled Opposition in Manufacturing Phony ‘Consensus’

Posted on | July 10, 2022 | Comments Off on The Role of Controlled Opposition in Manufacturing Phony ‘Consensus’

Alex Christy at Newsbusters calls attention to an appearance by David Brooks on PBS NewsHour discussing mass shootings:

I have never understood why an Australian-style gun buyback is an affront to anybody. It’s an open choice. You can sell your gun or not. But if we’re going to reduce 400 million guns, it would take something like that, not even just banning future purchases. I mean, we have got 400 million here.

This is a false characterization of Australia’s law, as Christy points out, it was definitely not “an open choice.” Australia enacted “sweeping new restrictions on firearms. Authorities collected and destroyed over 640,000 weapons, as many as one-third of all guns in the country — whether their owners wanted to part with them or not.”

What PBS was doing in this segment was presenting a simulacrum of “debate” about gun policy. David Brooks does not actually disagree with either the program’s liberal host, Judy Woodruff, or the other guest, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post. If you watch the segment, you see that Woodruff gave Capehart a platform to lecture for more than a minute about how “more serious action needs to be taken” on gun control. Woodruff then turns to Brooks, “asking” (actually prompting, since she knew the answer to her “question”) about the likelihood of more gun-control legislation being passed. Brooks answered that in two words: “Seems remote” and then, without further prompting, offered up his endorsement of Australian-style gun confiscation.

This is not actually a debate, you see, because there was no one on the program to articulate the argument against further gun-control measures, an argument that I should think would begin with asking, “What about enforcing the gun laws we already have?” Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a felony — and liberal district attorneys in cities like Philadelphia are not aggressively prosecuting such cases (because “social justice”). New York City has ended its “stop and frisk” policy, aimed at disarming street criminals (again, because “social justice”), and there are many other examples of leniency toward armed criminals that have proliferated since the Ferguson riots of 2014, a tendency intensified after the BLM/Antifa riots of 2020, yet now liberals (who are against law enforcement enforcement quite generally) are demanding new laws? Why? What’s the point of having any laws at all, if we’re not going to put people in prison for violating the law?

Everybody wants to talk about “mass shootings,” because these incidents get all the media attention, but is the PBS audience aware that, the same Fourth of July weekend when Bobby Crimo killed 7 people in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, 11 people were shot to death and another 64 were wounded in Chicago? That is to say, “mass shootings” are an unrepresentative fraction of armed violence in America, most of which more closely resembles the gang-banging mayhem in Chicago. But there was no one on PBS to point this out to Judy Woodruff’s audience, because the putative “conservative” guest is controlled opposition, engaged in a pretense of offering a different perspective from the avowed liberal guest, even while doing nothing whatsoever to refute the liberal’s argument. And this is damaging to public discourse. If you want to comprehend what’s undermining “Our Democracy” — about which liberals spend so much time wringing their hands — you must confront the role of the media in confusing policy debates this way, manufacturing a phony “consensus” by suppressing the conservative viewpoint.

It’s not just gun control, it’s energy policy, abortion, education, race relations — everything, basically — where the liberal media do their best to prevent their audience from being exposed to arguments on behalf of the conservative position, and one of the ways they do this is by giving airtime to token “conservatives” like David Brooks who do not actually advocate or defend conservative policies, but instead offer endorsement of the liberal agenda. This creates the appearance of a consensus in favor of liberalism, so that unless you actively seek out dissenting voices, you don’t even understand why anyone opposes liberal policies.

Most conservatives, I believe, are familiar with liberal arguments because how could you possibly avoid them? They’re everywhere in the media. But because the media suppresses conservative dissent — in part through the manufactured consensus in which phony “conservatives” like David Brooks play a crucial role — most liberals are never exposed to articulate or coherent presentation of the conservative point of view. Therefore, liberals imagine that anyone who votes Republican must be ignorant or motivated by bad faith — “racism,” greed or whatever. The media constantly bemoan the “polarization” of our politics, yet they are the ones causing this polarization, by obscuring the actual nature of policy disagreements, and dishonest scoundrels like David Brooks — “conservative,” my ass! — are their willing accomplices in this project.



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